Serious inversion layers this week blanketed the Rogue Valley in an icy cold swath. Though once above on the trails it was mid 50’s, bluebird skies, sun on the face, and sweat on the brow. Mt. McLoughlin pictured here framed by some madrones and firs on Hitt Road.
To see Strava files, if you do the Strava, find me as “Whyte Nynsha”.
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Quotes/mantras/wisdom for the week:
“Abraham Lincoln once said that if he had six hours to chop down a tree, he’d spend the first five hours sharpening the axe.” -from Sacred Journey of the Peaceful Warrior, by Dan Millman
Saturday 1/11: 20.0 miles / 3:06:06 / Ele’s 4,497 ft.
Woke up this a.m. feeling a need for a long run. My late start was rewarded with the only lengthy dry, sunny window of the day. Wasn’t expecting too much from my legs, the goal was just to get out and have a solid, positive, consistent long run with some elevation. The weather was windy, sunny, and warm enough. Made the climb up to Four Corners and just a bit beyond on Bull Gap Road. The climbing felt good, able to find a consistent pace. The combination of doing the bread & butter runs as well as the long, slow rejuvenation run last week gave me a good idea of what exertion level would be right for today. Given my mileage, vertical, and that I took in no calories or water for the run I am happy with my average pace. There is always the hindsight where I think, oh, I could have pushed harder here, or gone faster there, but it’s not a race and I achieved my goals for the run. Took the lower Bull Gap singletrack back down to four corners. Tried to be loose and comfortable on the decent and things felt good all the way down. I climbed up 2060 Rd. for just a short bit before heading home to get the legs used to that transition after a long decent and climb prior. Happy with the fact the energy levels stayed high enough throughout the run despite taking in no calories, body has become more and more efficient with the fueling. Also happy with my ability to stick to an even pace and make it through the run without any major lows or lulls. Saw Ryan and Willow out on the trail which is always a nice little boost for me when I see them and talk, even if briefly.
Sunday 1/12: 14.2 miles / 2:46:08 / Ele’s 4,844 ft.
Cracked close to 5,000 ft. of vertical in about 14 miles today, and two of those miles were flat, the rest I think is fair to say were up or down, maybe both? Legs felt slow and tired for the first couple miles of the run after yesterday’s longer outing that had some decent vertical too. Took an easy warm up from home and then an easy climb up the first section of Bandersnatch. Once I got on Pete’s though the legs warmed up a bit, the mind loosened up a bit, and the breathing felt good. As usual, aimed for my working goal of sub 19:30 on each, 18:50 the first go and a 19:12 the second go. Happy enough with those times considering they were working efforts and not full gas, and that the legs were not fresh or snappy. Worked on longer stride length intervals on the second time up. Took it easy on the way down each time and didn’t do too much lollying around near the top or bottom between each go which I think helped keep the legs flowing, even if it hurt a little more at the start of each round. After the second time down I climbed up Jabberwoky, the first 1/8 mile burned like a mother after the re-Pete’s, found a rhythm and effort that worked and made my way up, took it comfortable on the trails down and then did a couple faster miles on the road around the park and the legs and energy felt surprisingly good considering, able to run 7:03 and 6:28 without too much laboring or grimacing and felt I could have done a few more at that pace. Wanted to finish today with at least a little something left in the tank and that was accomplished. Again, no calories and no water on today’s run, the lows and dips that I did have in energy and focus today came within the first hour, the rest of the run things felt even keel and fine, could have done another 1/2 hour or so before a bonk likely hit. Happy with another solid day of vert and volume for the weekend, including Friday’s run this has been a good three day block of runnings.
Monday 1/13: 13.8 miles / 1:54:15 / Ele’s 2,848 ft. & 50:00 on bike trainer
Took a little while for the legs and the body to warm up and loosen up this morning. Things were feeling a bit rough around the edges after the weekend of running. Once I got into an easy rhythm things started to feel better. The weekend block of running started with some intensity on Friday’s run, and then Saturday and Sunday I focused more on volume and vert, getting some good longer runs in with plenty of climbing. Overall I could feel some of the fatigue of that volume in my legs today. However, none of my runs on Saturday and Sunday had any really intense efforts as far as exertion. Climbing up today my legs were telling me that although they were tired, they did want to unwind and push things at some point. I ran up at an even pace and figured that if things still felt motivated by Catwalk I would try for an effort there. Things did feel good so I opened it up a bit and managed to set a new PR/KOM on the Catwalk segment, running a 14:12, beating my old PR from November which was 16:02. Just at the top of Catwalk I figured I would keep the legs rolling and see how long I could ride the wave. Ended up running at tempo to milepost 19 on 2060 Rd. which was a good workout right after climbing Catwalk at an effort, that part of 2060 is false flat to slight uphill so it was a good burn. Was figuring I would ease off there but decided that I would turn around and just keep rolling it, the road was now downhill and from there to four corners and down the Loop Road I let things go free and wide open down to the flattish are past Caterpillar. Overall I was surprised and happy with the effort, a solid climb from the bottom of Catwalk to the top, right into a couple of faster tempo miles which was good for the legs and the turnover, and then straight into one of the fastest downhills I’ve run in a while. Starting more or less with the catwalk climb around mile 6 my splits were: 9:53 (bulk of catwalk climb), 7:20 (finish of climb straight into false flat tempo), 5:51 (2060 Rd. tempo), 5:26, 5:06 (last two Loop Rd. downhill). A solid 5 miles of work in there. Overall for the run my avg. pace was lower than my bread and butter runs last week, not by much, but still, a good pace considering the beginning and end of the run were more mellow. Will be interesting to see how the legs feel tomorrow after the downhill pounding today.
Tuesday 1/14: 11.2 miles / 1:55:10 / Ele’s 2,115 ft. & 30:00 on bike trainer
I could feel the last few days of running in the legs and body today, and mentally I was ready for an easy day just to cruise the forest easy. The goal was a rejuvenation run similar to last week, the mantra on the climbs, “not strain, no pain” and the mantra on the descent, “no punishing, no pounding”. Took the climb up very easy to the top of Caterpillar, enjoying getting into the sun above the inversion layer, blue sky, bright sun on my face. Just as I was turning to descendI saw Omer, and we ran the rest of the descent together, which was really enjoyable. We had some good talk and it was nice to have the conversation on the descent. Probably took the descent faster than I would have alone for this run, but it was nice to talk and listen and let my body just do its things. Took another mile at the end through the park really easy, felt better at the end of the run than at the beginning, still, I might need another one or two of these easy runs this week to let the harder runs from the last few days settle in.
Wednesday 1/15: 10.1 miles / 1:52:55 / Ele’s 2,208 ft.
Had another easy run today since I woke up feeling like my body could use it. Am working on erring on the side of being kinder to my body rather than erring on the side of overdoing it. Took it slow and easy, no pain no strain, on the climb up. Really intense inversion layer today made it cold and frosty to start, but gloriously sunny and so so warm up high. Topped out on the Pete’s Peak via up the backside from Caterpillar and found myself wishing there was a sun-deck with a chaise lounge, espresso, and the rest of the day off to just soak it all in. Took the downhill very very gentle as well, no pounding or hammering. Made it back with the legs feeling better than when I left. Overall I think this easy run was much needed today, the legs felt slow and heavy, energy levels were low, and I needed that easy run. We’ll see what tomorrow brings.
Thursday 1/16: 8.8 miles / 1:48:07 / Ele’s 3,674 ft.
Legs felt better this morning after taking the last couple days easier, my gut has been feeling a bit off lately, not enough to put me out, but enough to dampen a little the quality of how the body feels out running and the energy levels. My goal today was to get a couple laps in on Pete’s. Ran straight to the base through the cold freezing fog inversion layer, eager to climb up and get into the sunshine and warmer weather. The goal today, as usual, was to run each lap up under 19:30. My first go was 19:08, second go was 18:39. Not often that I run the second faster than the first, and the second go felt easier. On the second lap I did work on some longer stride intervals, I think these are good for recruiting the muscles in a different range of motion and to a different degree than the normal short and quick climbing stride, which translates to a greater range of strength and power for the stride on flatter runnings. Took the downhills easy and comfortable. Energy systems felt a little off today, some brief little spells of feeling a bit dizzy and out of sorts. Still, happy enough with two trips up Pete’s and the amazing warm sunshine up high thanks to the inversion. Great views of Mcloughlin and Mt. Ashland from the top of Pete’s. As an easy afternoon activity I opted for a walk in the afternoon to enjoy the sunshine rather then inside on the bike trainer.
Friday 1/17: 11.1 miles / 1:42:22 / Ele’s 2,063 ft. & 40:00 easy on bike
Wanted to run today’s lap up Pete’s with the goal of going a bit harder than either of my efforts yesterday since I only planned to do one up today. Warmed up and the legs felt more or less average after yesterday’s re-Pete’s. On the run up Pete’s I tried “attacking” some of the steeper sections with longer, more powerful strides until almost the point where my legs were too flamed out to run another step, then I would back it off to shorter strides and recover and wait for another section to go hard on. More glorious and warm sunshine at the top and all the way up. Ended up with an 18:00 on the nose for today’s effort, happy with that time. Took it super chill on the way down the trails via Caterpillar etc. and saw the Kem family doing a forest friday, a bunch of smiling faces! Did a progression workout of 3 miles right near the end of the run on the flat gravel road above the park, times for those three miles were: 6:27, 6:11, 5:49. The brain was kind of in a blah state so it took some pushing and prodding to get the legs turning over for this faster bit. The first mile felt the hardest, getting the legs rolling faster and working hard after the easy downhill off Pete’s. After the first mile my goal was two more miles, each progressively faster. The road above the park is great for this, not super long so you have to do u-turns at each end mid-mile, but still, a natural surface, some slight undulations, more exciting than the track and fairly consistent. The next two miles of the progression came a bit easier mentally and physically as I got more focused and locked in on my breath and movement. Was nice to get those faster miles in after having done Pete’s earlier in the run, I think that variation in type of terrain, while still going hard, whether hill or flat, ultimately makes my running stronger and more resilient. Overall, happy with the running today, I felt a bit tired and uninspired heading out the door to start the run and it was nice to push things hard and let the lactic acid burn some of those blues away.
Running Weekly Totals: 89.2 miles / 15:06:00 / Ele’s 22,249 ft.
Bike Stationary Trainer Total Time: 2:00:00
Total Time: 17:06:00
Lessons from the week:
Happy with another solid week of running, 22,249 ft. of vertical and just shy of 90 miles is a quality set of numbers for me. A new PR/KOM on catwalk by a solid chunk of time over my last PR, my average times up Pete’s are dropping, and I came close to breaking a 5:00 mile on some downhill work after a good tempo effort up Catwalk and out Rd 2060. Looking back on the week I started this block with two days of longer runs, both of which I felt consistent and solid on, followed my Monday’s run that involved some high intensity efforts and some fast downhill turnover. Am starting to really find the right way to do my recovery/rejuvenation runs and I finished the week with some quality workouts on Pete’s and a little 3 mile tempo that let me know I haven’t forgotten completely how to run on flatter terrain. Overall I felt like the week’s workload was manageable for my body, had a couple low spots here and there energy and/or motivation wise, though those were in the morning before the run and were quickly dissolved once I got into the day’s run. Had some gut issue during the week that kind of threw things out of whack a bit, but feeling a bit better now. The weather was great with the inversion and I am feeling like the body is developing a solid base from all the aerobic running, and still getting plenty of return from the couple of more intense efforts that come up during the week. The longer runs on the weekend have been good, more of those to come hopefully.
Spent a little less time on the bike trainer this week as I opted to take a few walks in the afternoons as a mellow afternoon activity rather than sit inside and spin. I think in general the walks are a bit more restful than the spin sessions. Keeping on top with the Bikram yoga 3-4 times a week, and just bought a foam roller as recommended by Shaggy which should help roll some kinks out.
Here is an excerpt from and article via irunfar.com, written by Joe Uhan, that goes along with my post last week regarding training intensities and the importance of using high intensity workouts sparingly mixed with lower intensity aerobic running:
Intensity Matters: Fuel Selection and Inflammatory Stress
The answer to the undead pain puzzle lies in intensity. Most runners and sports-med professionals agree that faster running is more stressful, yet most would cite that mechanical stress–higher speeds equal higher forces–as the primary reason.
But what about chemical stress?
With any activity, we have two primary fuel sources: fat and sugar. At most efforts, our bodies burn a mixture, but ultimately prefer to burn fat. We have lots of it, and we’re wired to ‘go slow all day’ with everything we do. However, as a part of our survival, we’re also equipped with the ability to go really hard for short periods of time. At any given time, we have about one to three hours of fuel to go at high intensity, and that fuel is sugar.
While sugar burning is a fast-acting, convenient, high-octane fuel, chronic use has its drawbacks. When the body shifts away from fat to sugar burning, the body responds by secreting inflammatory chemicals. The body, perceiving this high-intensity activity, releases these chemicals to preemptively repair any possible damage that may occur from such intense efforts.
A primary chemical consequence of prolonged sugar-burning exercise is increased cortisol production. Cortisol is a stress hormone secreted in higher volumes with sugar-burning exercise; its primary role is to mobilize more sugar into the system, as well as other energy forms. In small doses, cortisol has positive effects. But with prolonged and excessive secretion, cortisol can, among other things, decrease tissue healing and dampen the immune system. There are other inflammatory byproducts from the sugar-burning process, but cortisol is the primary culprit.
So when a healing runner exercises at a high-enough intensity to burn predominantly sugar, the result is more than mechanical stress: they inadvertently flood their system with inflammatory, tissue-weakening chemicals. These chemicals attack the healing tissue (and often the sensitized nerve tissues around the injury). The result is ongoing pain and poor tissue healing. There’s the rub.
Aerobic and Anaerobic: A Tight Balancing Act
Most runners recognize that sugar-burning–high-intensity running (or any other physical activity)–must be done sparingly. But how, precisely, do we know when we’re fat versus sugar burning?
Aerobic fitness is defined by the maximum intensity and duration of exercise we can partake while using fat as a dominant fuel source. Fat burning requires a lot of oxygen and a lot of cellular mitochondria to process, but with more practice (training), the body can burn fat faster, and longer. But when the demands of activity out-strip what fat can provide, the body shifts to more and more sugar. But it is not an either-or, all-or-nothing scenario. Rather, it is a dynamic ratio of fat and sugar at various intensities.
However, for each of us, at any given fitness level, there is an intensity level at which our body shifts completely to sugar burning. This is referred to as the anaerobic threshold (AT). Beyond this point, we are burning pure sugar and the above-mentioned chemical stressors are most acute. Healthy runners are usually able to strike a balance of easy, fat-burning running with more intense exercise. They quickly learn what intensities are sustainable and stay within those limits.
But for injured runners, that system can be completely disrupted:
- The fit, healthy runner might burn mostly fat at eight-minute pace.
- The injured runner, due to lost fitness, has diminished fat-burning ability: eight-minute pace may now be entirely sugar-burning.
- The fit, healthy runner, pre-injury, had consistent running mechanics.
- The injured runner has learned a faster, more efficient stride, but the learning process drives her to run too fast–7:30 pace–beyond even her previous fat burning, and far beyond her current fitness.
- Running fast (due to better mechanics, or impatience, and/or excitement to run again) burns sugar, creates chronic, systemic inflammation, and perpetuates pain and slows recovery.
It becomes a painful cycle that must somehow end.
Intensity Guidelines for Metabolic Stress Management
Phil Maffetone, DC, was one of the first sports medicine professionals to recognize the role of training intensity on injury incidence and recovery–and quantify it. Besides using it as a guide for optimal training, he devised and uses his ’180 Formula’ to ensure athletes maximize fat burning and minimize sugar-burning and its accompanying stresses.
The 180 formula, simply put, is the optimal heart rate-based exercise intensity at which fat is still the dominant fuel source. The formula was derived from the thousands of respiratory metabolic tests he conducted with athletes over the past 30-plus years. The general rule: 180 minus your current age. This is an estimate based on the average of those laboratory results. And based on those thousands of results–and the various athletes, injured and healthy, he tested–he developed several caveats, including:
- If you have or are recovering from a major illness (heart disease, any operation or hospital stay, etc.) or are on any regular medications, subtract an additional 10.
- If you are injured, have regressed in training or competition, get more than two colds or bouts of flu per year, have allergies or asthma, or if you have been inconsistent or are just getting back into training, subtract an additional 5.
- If you have been training consistently (at least four times weekly) for up to two years without any of the problems just mentioned, keep the number (180–age) the same.
- If you have been training for more than two years without any of the problems listed above, and have made progress in competition without injury, add 5.